Hazlewoods magazine: Sustainable business view

Published: Monday 20 July 2020

Zellar: Turning green dreams into reality

Looking to the future, finding ways to manage cash and make prudent decisions for business money is going to be key to survival for many.

Sustainability and being green has not always gone hand in hand with cost savings. 88% of British SMEs value sustainability, but 70% struggle to make it a reality within their business; most cite cost as the primary barrier.

Further studies show that consumers gravitate towards companies with strong ethical and environmental credentials, so it would not be surprising to see sustainability go from a differentiator to a requirement in competitive markets in the years to come.

Zellar founder, Gary Styles, agrees with this; he spoke to us about his passion for climate change and his aim to make Zellar the lowest cost path to sustainability educating consumers and helping SMEs to achieve net zero carbon within 10 years.

BE THE CHANGE YOU WANT TO SEE

Gary’s energy journey started in 1998 as he developed Online Direct, the UK’s first aggregator in the energy market. Having launched in 2003, the business has now processed over 500,000 B2B contracts.

Along the way Gary realised he had a passion for climate change and, understanding that the energy industry was part of the problem, has decided to make a change and develop a business that could revolutionise the way energy is purchased by SMEs in the UK in the future. He describes it as ‘being the change you want to see’, and so the concept for Zellar was formed.

SIX STEPS IN THE CARBON ZERO JOURNEY

Gary explains that the Government has set a target of net zero emissions by 2050 and, in order to achieve this, the 6 million SMEs in the UK will be crucial to reaching the target, both in achieving themselves and driving the message through their communities. There is, however, a lack of support, education and understanding to help businesses achieve what appears to be an enormous goal.

Gary believes that the Government targets are not ambitious enough and has set up Zellar with a mission to help get 1 million SMEs to net carbon zero by 2030. By doing this Gary estimates he will be able to save 100 million tons of CO2, and helping the UK to get to carbon zero more quickly.

Zellar is a digital platform that makes managing sustainability easier for SMEs; the data available through the software provides insights for leaders into their business that help to measure environmental impact and change behavior.

In order to address the climate emergency, and make the goal more achievable for SMEs Gary and his team have created a model that gives people the opportunity to be part of the change:

1. ZELLAR PASSPORT: described as the ‘Strava’ for energy, the Zellar passport holds data from all of its users in one place, allowing businesses to benchmark themselves locally, nationally and within their sector.

2. BUSINESS PLEDGE: Zellar supports businesses to identify what a realistic target is for them in achieving net zero.

3. NET ZERO SELF-AUDIT: the self-audit introduces an activity that became compulsory for large businesses in 2014 and is conducted online to avoid an energy auditor with a sales approach turning up at the door.

4. COMMISSION FREE COMPARISON SITE: the commission free element means prices are lower than existing comparison models and Zellar encourages businesses to use the money saved to kickstart their net zero investment.

5. ZELLAR SCORE: the Zellar score introduces the first sustainability score for SMEs. Where reviews and standards have become commonplace in other industries, such as food hygiene, for example, the Zellar score is the first of its kind for the SME energy market and one that Gary envisions will become a standard for the future.

6. OFFSETTING: In addition, Zellar will offer a variety of options for you to offset your business’s carbon footprint.

The energy industry has long been criticised for its lack of transparency and in the midst of a crisis, the world has demanded more information, and issues of trust and transparency have become increasingly important factors for consumers. Zellar’s strategy aims to address this by providing clear access to data and benchmarking, and capitalising on the natural competitiveness of businesses to want to achieve more.

CREATING SUSTAINABLE BUSINESS FOR THE FUTURE

Further to short-term economic survival, saving money is not the only value in a greener strategy for businesses.

Those businesses with strong ethical and environmental credentials will undoubtedly attract the best talent as Generation-Z starts to take over millennials as the majority of the workforce. As the food industry has seen a shift in demands for knowledge of food provenance, Gary envisages that the energy market will begin to come under greater scrutiny and both employees and customers will have a heightened awareness of the businesses they work for and purchase from, and a desire to associate with those with a sustainable purpose.

Gary concludes that education is key; with data visibility and understanding what good looks like through benchmarking, it is then about spreading the word and using the new-found transparency to educate the masses. One of the many ways Zellar is achieving this is by harnessing the power of the influencer. Zellar ‘changemakers’, small and large, are signing up all the time to spread the word and encourage others to strive for carbon zero.

MEET THE FOUNDER

Gary Styles

Zellar was founded by Gary Styles who has been pioneering change in the energy market for 20 years.  His innovation and industry developments bought efficiencies and reduced costs for thousands of SMEs across the UK. This experience has given Gary a unique perspective on the energy market, and never one to rest on his laurels, he is now intent on shaking the industry up again. This time by using his business experience and passion for reducing the effects of climate change, to create a digital platform that will help business communities become more sustainable and responsible, in the most efficient way possible.